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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Enjoying LA
09/20/2006, Los Angeles, CA

As our time in the second largest city in the US grows short we have tried to soak up the LA vibe as much as possible. We have been to plays at the Downtown Music Center, the Santa Monica Pier, and most recently a Dodgers game. How LA managed to lose to the Pirates I'll never know (I hope that isn't some weird sort of symbolism). I will miss the Dodger Dogs and the Gordon Birsch garlic fries!

(go Dodgers!!)

One Year Anniversary
09/18/2006, Marakesh, CA

We've been married now for a year and it has been the best year of our lives. We got together with some of our LA friends to celebrate and reminisce about the fun we had in French Polynesia last year at this time. Marrakesh is a great place for Moroccan food on Ventura.

From left to right: TH, Em, Jaqwah, Todd, Lou, Pabs, Sanae, Hideko and Randy.

Getting Together with Friends to say: "see you soon"
09/03/2006, Agua Dulce, CA

We have really tried to spend a lot of time with friends and family over the last year. Our dearest hope is that many of our friends and relatives will come to join us for extended periods on the boat. That said, we realize that setting off on a journey around the globe will separate us from the people we love most to some degree.

Our friends Atsuko and Razmig recently returned from Sudan and while we missed them when they were gone, the amazing stories they had to tell were well worth it.

Reflecting upon this has helped us to continue to be excited about our upcoming travels even though we will miss all of our friends and family so much.

The Offshore K9
08/27/2006, Las Vegas, NV

No, it's not photo shop, that's a real dog PFD. Roq is coming with us and he is as properly outfitted as any dog ever was. I think the range of K9 marine apparatus would startle the average person. Roq loves the water but I am particularly interested in seeing how the astro-turf on the transom works out...

Saint Brendan's Isle
08/24/2006, Green Cove Springs, FL

We have settled on St. Brendan's Isle as the firm to handle our US mailing address. There are some pretty slick services out there that will scan your mail and put it up on the web for you but the SBI folks just seem to understand the needs of a cruiser a bit better. They will even renew our Coast Guard documentation for us (every year...). We get a regular street address and they will ship anything we ask for, anywhere, whilst tossing the bulk rate garbage that currently floods the snail-mail-ways. We are about the 4,000th client of theirs and it is no wonder that they have great shipping suggestions for just about any destination around the globe.

Skype Me
08/20/2006, California

After considering how to remote our US presence we decided that a global call friendly phone solution and a US mail forwarding address were all that we really needed.

There are a few voice over IP phone solutions out there but we have determined that Skype is the service to beat. While I hate to bet against Google and Google Talk, Skpye is presently far ahead when it comes to a total phone solution. Our Skype account allows us to call other Skype users over the Internet for no charge. It is pretty easy to convince friends and family in Japan and the US to buy a $10 mic for their PC and spend 5 minutes installing a rather small application when "free" is weighing in the balance. We can call all standard US and Canada phones for free until the end of the year and the rest of the globe is about 2 cents a minute. Skype also gets us a phone number, for all of our technology challenged friends (how retro!), and free voicemail. Not bad for $38 a year. The audio quality and latency are also good (not great but acceptable for business).

Google is still our choice for email and we will be integrating our route planning and logs with Google Earth here.

Radio Permits
08/09/2006, Costa Mesa, California

We both now hold Marine Radio Operator Permits. We only needed the Restricted Permit, which is like an FCC fund raiser (the FCC keeps no record of Restricted Permit holders and if you fill out the form and pay a fee it's yours) but were required to get the MROP for our Yachtmaster certification. The MROP requires you to take the Commercial Radio Operator Written Element 1 test. Studying for the test was a fairly easy and worthwhile exercise in retrospect. We took the test at the Gordon West School. Gordon and his wife are awesome and they own all of the radios in Costa Mesa as far as I can tell. I haven't gotten such a cool certificate since grade school.

I have reconsidered getting a HAM license now that I have begun to dig into the ICOM 802 SSB we just purchased. The marine high frequency radios operate much like HAM radios but you can only transmit on the marine channels unless you're a HAM. SailMail is an email service that operates over the SSB and is looking like the way we will do most of our email. With HAM transmit capabilities our email options will be broader (and cheaper). The HAM requirements should be dropping the Morse code element any day so I think I'll hold out.


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